Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti demands action on Vinícius racist abuse in Rayo Vallecano pre-match press conference
Ancelotti spoke all things Vinícius in his pre-match press conference before Los Blancos face Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga on Wednesday.
Real Madrid take on Rayo Vallecano at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday having slipped down into third place in the LaLiga table following their defeat to Valencia and Atlético Madrid’s fine recent form.
However, Los Blancos’ on-field struggles have - rightly - been completely overshadowed in the last 48 hours by the vile racist abuse suffered by winger Vinícius Júnior.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash with Rayo, Carlo Ancelotti fielded questions exclusively about the insults his player had received at Mestalla and discussed the Brazilian’s state of mind, the seemingly ongoing problem with racism in LaLiga, whether the situation could have been handled better amongst other things.
What did Carlo Ancelotti say about Vinícius Júnior in his Rayo Vallecano pre-match press conference?
How is Vinicius doing?
We are all concerned about what has happened. We’re right to be having so much discussion about this issue. It’s a great opportunity to make improvements. Vinicius is sad and he didn’t train today because he had a minor knee issue. He’s suspended for tomorrow anyway... which would open up another debate.
“They said he was ‘stupid’ and not a ‘monkey’. So what? Is that OK?”
There have been ten reports of racist abuse directed at Vinícius with hardly any punishment being handed out. Has Vinícius been protected enough?
He has been a victim, he is a victim of what is happening. Sometimes he is blamed: “he provokes people”, “his attitude”... no. Let’s be clear: he is the victim in all of this. Just like the fans who behave impeccably. And by the way, when I talk about Mestalla, I’m not referring to 46,000 people, but to a small group that behaved very badly. Just like in Mallorca, Valladolid...it’s a habit. Beyond racism, it seems as if it’s become normal to insult people inside stadiums. I think what Xavi said was spot-on: Why do we normalise insults in soccer? They told me that they didn’t call him a “monkey” but instead said he was “stupid”. So what? Does that make it OK? It’s equally intolerable. It has to stop. Some who sit behind the dugout call you a “son of a bitch,” a “faggot,” they tell you they want your mother to die. Why? This is a great opportunity to put an end to it. Spain is not racist, but there is racism in Spain. And it has to change.
Should your players have left the field of play? Is image censorship the most serious thing you’ve seen in relation to VAR so far?
I don’t know if there was any manipulation or if they simply forgot. But it’s clear: Vinicius was hit by the goalkeeper and then by Hugo Duro. And if someone hits you, you defend yourself. As for leaving the field... I think stopping the match could be a good solution. But I repeat: it’s a key moment for us to take action. I hope the authorities make the most of it.
In his first three seasons in Madrid, no one insulted Vinicius... what has happened in the last two years for that to change?
I repeat: for me, Spain is not a racist country. But there is racism here. In recent years, Vini has become a leading player, and that has turned him into a ‘sporting enemy.’ That can happen. But for that to turn into racism...
Insults before the game
Is the protocol for what happens in this situation outdated? Had you ever discussed what to do if it happened?
I believe it’s outdated, yes. Because the protocol should be applied as soon as the players arrive by bus. That’s when the insults begin, and that’s when the argument that Vinícius provokes fans falls apart. These are not isolated cases, as has been said for a long time. One person from Valencia said it was an ‘isolated case.’ It’s not 46,000 people, but it’s not just one or two either. They were already hurling insults two hours before the game.
What has disappointed you the most in the last 48 hours?
I am waiting to see what happens. Hopefully, something will happen. And of course, I’m concerned because, for me, it’s an important moment. It’s crucial that measures are taken... and I’m looking at the Spanish Soccer Federation and LaLiga.
Condemnation not enough
What do you expect exactly?
It’s good to condemn what happened, but it’s not enough. I want action to be taken. And that hasn’t been done yet.
Are you worried that all this could actually make Vinicius leave Spain?
No, I don’t think so. Vinicius loves soccer and Real Madrid. His love for Real Madrid is very strong, and he wants to continue his career with this team.
Have you spoken with Vinicius?
Yes, he’s very sad. But he knows he has the support of everyone, not just from Madrid. It’s unconditional support... even from our rivals!
You have been saying that racism has been a problem for months. Do you feel progress is being made or not? Or is it being made too slowly?
Phew... I repeat: Spain is not racist. Things happen, but I am a citizen, just like you. And it’s not up to me to make certain decisions.
Vinícius’ Real Madrid future
Is Vinicius really considering leaving Spain?
I don’t think so because he really loves Real Madrid. I don’t think that has crossed his mind.
Has Vinicius lost his enthusiasm for the game?
He hasn’t lost his enthusiasm, no. We will see what punishment he gets (for the red card) and then we will assess whether to give him more or fewer days off. If he gets a two-match ban, I will give him a week off to be ready for the match against Athletic. And if it’s a one-match ban, he will play in Seville.
Naming and shaming racists
Would it be appropriate to name and shame the racists?
It’s one of the measures that can be taken, yes. In Valencia, I think they are going to do it. And if we continue on that path, there will be many names and surnames. But it cannot be the only measure, that’s for sure.
When speaking about what happened before the derby (against Atlético Madrid), the Prosecutor’s Office talked of the “rivalry between fanbases”...
The authorities have not fully grasped the magnitude of what is happening.
Do you regret not telling your players to go to the dressing room?
It’s something I have thought about, yes. I asked Vinícius if he wanted to continue, and the referee asked him to do so, so that was no longer an option. But of course, it’s a possibility. I hope it never has to come to that because I don’t want it to; but there is a judge who is responsible for making that decision. I hope not. But... it’s a possibility.